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Speech analytics - getting past the hype

It seems like speech analytics has been around forever. Yet mainstream enterprise adoption has remained elusive.

This is not for lack of desire. In a survey carried out by Forrester in 2011, the two top challenges to improving customer service were creation of customer insight and having a single view of customer information and data. No doubt this remains a truism. Why would customer-service operations or regulated organizations not want to be able to treat voice communications like any other medium — to search, analyze, uncover sentiment, discover and act on insights?

So where is it on the adoption curve?

According to Gartner’s 2012 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, audio mining and speech analytics have gone past the 'Peak of Inflated Expectations' and are now on the steep slope towards the 'Trough of Disillusionment'. Despite the term, this marks the beginning of the road to mainstream takeup.

The problem lies in part with the very organizations that hyped it: the vendor ‘establishment’ on whose recording systems analytics are predicated.

Built on in-house hardware models with proprietary application stacks that lock in their customers, these traditional providers have put a brake on adoption. How do you get a unified view across voice and data when your offices — each with their own recording box — are, increasingly, scattered across the four corners of the earth? With a patchwork of distributed hardware, how do you manage the CPU-intensive activities of indexing and analytics without expensive system upgrades? And therein lies the answer from traditional vendors: more complexity and more cost.

As our CTO, Andrew Dunn, presents at next Monday 3rd June at Avaya’s annual user group conference in Orlando, emerging cloud technologies will change this — providing the unified view across communications, the global reach and computing scalability and flexibility to index and analyze voice — without the cost, complexity or support headaches of on-premise systems.

Things are moving. Last year Avaya reported a 60% increase in installations of speech analytics. According to the sages at Gartner, audio mining and speech analytics are some 5-10 years from hitting the 'Plateau of Productivity'. Cloud-based recording and analytics have the potential to transform this timescale, accelerating the pace at which organizations can begin to access economic, effective voice analytics across a distributed workforce. With petabytes of voice waiting for the technology to unlock its value, this change can’t come too soon.

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